Areas of Communication Studies

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Recognizing the importance of human communication in both professional and personal lives, Communication Studies majors explore communication and develop skills in a variety of contexts. We live in a complex and rapidly changing world where those knowledgeable of and skilled in communication within families, corporations, and cultures will be most successful in their personal, professional, and civic lives.

Interpersonal communication

Interpersonal Communication involves the study of the dynamics of family, friends, romances, lifestyles, and cultures, and shows how communication defines and shapes these interactions. It also studies how we can explore who we are and strive to understand how we as individuals fit in the larger society. Interpersonal Communication looks at how cultures and communities create and share meaning through words, customs, and dress as well as how communication is the common denominator that brings people together through various means to bring about social change and help people understand each other.

Media Studies

Media Studies focuses on both traditional media (newspapers, film, and television) and new media (social media, the internet, and video games). Such technologies have reshaped romantic and interpersonal relationships, forms of labor in the workforce, accessibility to information and knowledge, types of entertainment available, and individual identity formation. In Media Studies, students learn how traditional media shape and frame events, encourage agendas, and perpetuate stereotypes. Students will also study New Media and learn about social media marketing and analytics, video game studies, and apps as well as other contemporary technologies. By gaining a variety of skills and knowledge in Media Studies, students will be prepared for newly developing media careers.

Performance Studies

Performance Studies explores the use of performance as a means of studying literary and oral texts, understanding culture, and communicating ideas. Students learn how to translate literature and other texts from the page to the stage through their use of literary analysis, characterization, staging, and vocal and physical expression. Performance Studies students are interested in performing in a variety of contexts including solo and group performance; performance of poetry, prose, and drama; adapting and directing; storytelling and narrative performance; performance of everyday life including roles and rituals; and performance and social activism.

Faculty in Performance Studies have interests in personal narrative and ethnography, performing literature, readers theatre, performance and social activism, performance and sexualities, illness narratives, and feminist performance.

Rhetoric & Civic Engagement

Rhetoric & Civic Engagement is the basis for the field of Communication Studies.  It refers to the study of how communication works, with special attention to the art and science of persuasion.  Why do certain messages catch fire and change the world?  Why do certain messages "stick" in our memories?  Why do people react strongly to some messages, but then completely ignore others?  Rhetorical theory and criticism explore these questions through the analysis of texts ranging from political speeches to music lyrics to online communication.  In addition, Rhetoric & Civic Engagement includes teaching students how to use the tools of language, structure, and delivery to improve their written and oral communication. 

Public Speaking, a component of Rhetoric & Civic Engagement, is a vital skill necessary for success in professional jobs, personal relationships, and civic and community participation.  Effective public speaking means being able to express yourself clearly and adapt to your audience in a variety of contexts.  COM 010, Fundamentals of Oral Communication, the course introduces students to the basic skills needed for informative and persuasive presentations.  The following courses offer additional opportunities to polish your delivery, captivate an audience, and communicate ideas through advanced presentational techniques.

Strategic Communication

Strategic communication incorporates all of an organization's communication efforts into the single, focused purpose of furthering its reputation and brand.  In doing so, organizations using strategic communication improve their image among their key publics much more effectively and efficiently than through the previous, fragmented communication efforts of the past.  The primary benefit of strategic communication is that the practice improves sponsorships, profits, political support, employee satisfaction, as well as overall patronage of the organization by its many, and often fragmented, publics.  Modern, successful organizations must adopt the strategic communication model because of today's ever-expanding methods of communication, increased legal and political pressures, and the growing struggle to gain public support by competing organizations.  Contemporary organizations, from Fortune 500, to non-profit, to the smallest company sue and benefit from strategic communication practices.  Accordingly, tomorrow's communication professionals must be proficient in its practice and application.  Students who study strategic communication are prepared to assist all types of organizations meet their goals in areas like Public Relations, Training and Development, Integrated Marketing, Human Resources, and Communication Management.

  • Courses in Strategic Communication
    • COM 170:  Introduction to Public Relations
    • COM 215:  Small Group Communication
    • COM 219:  Integrated Marketing Communication Concepts and Practices
    • COM 235:  Public Relations Cases and Campaigns
    • COM 241:  Public Relations Processes and Techniques
    • COM 261:  Introduction to Health Communication
    • COM 274:  Organization Communication
    • COM 311:  Crisis Communication
    • COM 314:  Integrated Marketing
    • COM/WGS 350:  Leadership Communication
    • COM 375:  Communication Training and Development
  • Representative Publications from Faculty in Strategic Communication
    • Cripe, E. T. (2018). "Scarlet C": Exploring Caesarean Section Stigma. Health Communication, 33(6), 782-785.
    • Dewine, S. , Eicholtz, M. M. and White‐Mills, K. (2017). Training and Development. In The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication (eds C. R. Scott, J. R. Barker, T. Kuhn, J. Keyton, P. K. Turner and L. K. Lewis)
    • Harasta, J. (2014). Jersey strong, right?: A communications analysis of New Jersey's post-Hurricane Sandy tourism recovery. Case Studies in Strategic Communication, 3, article 4.
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Faculty Conference Map

Our faculty advance the discipline of communication in the areas of interpersonal communication, media studies, rhetoric & advocacy, performance studies, and strategic communication.

Explore our Faculty Conference Map